Four officers face action for undue pay hike of LS,RS staff

Pranab Mukherjee had frowned on ‘unjustified’ increments in 2009

Written by Shyamlal Yadav | New Delhi | Published: April 13, 2013 1:18 am

A committee appointed by the Lok Sabha will soon finalize the nature and quantum of punishment for four officials indicted for “intellectual dishonesty”,which led to nearly 4,000 employees of the two Houses of Parliament receiving two advance increments adding up to several tens of crores of rupees six years ago.

The officials’ conduct,says a report prepared by the committee,caused “unexplainable embarrassment” to Speaker Meira Kumar,besides “huge and recurring financial losses to the public exchequer”.

The Indian Express had reported in its edition of December 28,2009 that the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had recorded his disapproval of the Speaker’s decision to allow the increments without first consulting his ministry. (http://goo.gl/Gopca)

The indicted officials — now deputy secretaries Raju Srivastava and Mohammed Aftab Alam,now director Abhijit Kumar,and former joint secretary R C Ahuja,now retired — could,under the rules,be censured,their increments or promotions withheld,or the loss to the government recovered in whole or in part from their pay.

The extra money received by thousands of parliament secretariat employees — which Mukherjee,in November 2009,had said had “no justification” — is unlikely to be ever recovered.

According to the note prepared for the committee,Srivastava,Alam,Kumar and Ahuja mooted the proposal that led to employees of the two secretariats receiving two advance increments with effect from April 1,2007.

At the time they were authorised in September 2009,the unprecedented increments were justified as “a one-time measure” intended to remove “pay anomalies”. The decision was first implemented in the Lok Sabha secretariat and subsequently for employees of the Rajya Sabha secretariat as well.

The “grave intellectual dishonesty” and “evil designs” of the indicted officials,executed “violating all established norms”,was intended to mislead senior officials,says the note,which has been accessed by The Indian Express.

“The evil designs of Shri Raju Srivastava has created unexplainable embarrassment for the Hon’ble Speaker due to intervention of Finance Minister and Ministry of Finance in the pay fixation process of the employees of the secretariat,which has never happened in the past. Shri Raju Srivastava has concealed the facts,misled the senior officers with evil intentions,which caused huge and recurring financial losses to the public exchequer and committed intellectual dishonesty by not examining matters which involve huge financial implication,” says the note.

The note holds the other three officials “equally responsible” for not verifying facts as supervising officers.

The four officials have,however,pleaded not guilty,and submitted to the inquiry committee that they had initiated the controversial decision because they had been told to do so by the then secretary general of the Lok Sabha PDT Achary.

Achary retired in 2010. Sources said the committee is preparing a questionnaire for Achary,and would finalise its report after receiving his replies. This,the sources said,could take up to the end of the budget session. Promotions in the Lok Sabha secretariat are held up because of the inquiry.

The three-member committee headed by additional secretary S Bal Sekhar was set up after an inquiry conducted by another panel headed by then additional secretary Prahlad Rai Meena recommended in September 2011 that “there were certain administrative irregularities committed which warrants that the responsibility of each official associated with decision making be established through a detailed inquiry”.

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